To prove that there was life after Carol Vorderman, Channel 4’s Countdown took on a new letters-and-numbers person, Rachel Riley, as a replacement. Ms Riley has done the showbiz rounds since her first appearance on the show in 2009, including becoming another casualty of The Curse Of Strictly. But her social media profile was not a thing of controversy - until she decided to wade into the political arena.
Rachel Riley ...
... and Mark Meechan, the object of her sympathy
Ms Riley has become embroiled in the debate over anti-Semitism, and how prevalent it is in the Labour Party. Many others have done so; it is not an exceptional stance to be thus concerned. But it was when Alan Sugar declared that if Jeremy Corbyn won the next General Election, he would leave the country, that she made her fateful move.
After Owen Jones had commented “In fact his specific reason for saying he’d leave the country Phil Collins style was that Corbyn would trash the economy - he said it’d be like watching your mum in law drive your Ferrari off a cliff” in response to those suggesting that the departure was because Sugar is Jewish, Ms Riley went in with both feet.
“OMG. You’ve still not got it. I couldn’t give a monkey’s about Sugar’s words at this point. Saying he would leave for fears of his (probably yet unborn) great grandchildren implies it’s not financial. And my original complaint was that a MINORITY GROUP under intense scrutiny and abuse for even detecting racism against them, might find it distasteful in the way they are likely to interpret that, due to many of them feeling the same. STOP. LISTEN. Then stop arguing the wrong thing. It’s excruciating”.
Many responded negatively to her intervention. Worse, some noticed that, on this subject, Ms Riley was - perhaps inadvertently - standing in an awfully draughty glasshouse. Because when Mark Meechan, who styles himself Count Dankula, told his followers “While awaiting sentencing, Court has ordered that I meet with a court social worker for an assessment as to whether or not a Restriction Of Liberty Order will be placed on me. This would involve a GPS tracking device being attached to me and me being placed under house arrest”, she had responded with a sympathetic “Insane”.
Mark Meechan found himself in that pre-sentencing state after it had been shown he had trained his partner’s dog to make a Nazi salute whenever he shouted “Gas the Jews”. He’s a pal of Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, whose Islamophobia is legendary. And Rachel Riley has sympathised with him.
So when Ms Riley tells “On a separate note, a HUGE, MASSIVE, heartfelt thank you to each and every person calling #Antisemitism out, showing your support, challenging the ignorant or the bigoted, or even just by fact checking what you’re reading in this whole awful tale”, perhaps she has a little more of this “whole awful tale” to learn about.
Anti-Semitism is out of order. But so is sympathising with its proponents.
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